Florence Itinerary: What do you think?

Old Mar 28th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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Florence Itinerary: What do you think?

My husband & I will be in Florence for 4 nights arriving on Thursday, October 2nd and leaving on Monday, October 6th. This will be the last stop on our first (3 week) trip to Italy! As you have already been so helpful with our Venice portion, I am returning to ask for your opinions on the following itinerary:

Day 1 (Thurs):
Leave San Quirico, drive to Florence & drop off car. We are staying at Tourist House Ghiberti near the Duomo.

Markets, shop & wander: Flower Market (Piazza della Repubblica), San Lorenzo Market & Mercato Centrale

Visit: the Duomo & climb the dome

Day 2 (Fri):
Markets, shop, wander
Medici Chapel

Day 3 (Sat):
Uffizi (reserve morning entry time)

Oltrarno - explore galleries & shops ... wonder if the Bardini Garden will be worthwhile visiting in early October?

San Miniato Church
Piazza Michelangelo

Day 4 (Sun):
Accademia (reserve afternoon entry

Looks a bit sparse ... but maybe that's okay --- leaves more time for exploration & discovery! What do you think?

2010 is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 04:42 PM
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I think you mean Boboli Gardens? If so, I'd drop this from your list unless you are a huge fan of gardens. October is not the best season, and it takes a lot of time to see the entire gardens. Instead, you might want to see the Brancacci Chapels. (Reservations recommended.)

I like the lack of intensity to your plans, but I would put a bit of structure into the wandering time. You might have time to see the Duomo and the Battistry on the first day. San Lorenzo is very near the Medici Chapels.

See all the major piazzas, and go inside Santa Croce Church. Dante's House is interesting (but not worth a detour) and the nearby church on Via del Corso has concerts in the evening at a very reasonable cost.

If you could add one thing, I would suggest the museum of the Duomo (across the street from the side closest to the Tourist House Ghiberti). There's a decent restaurant on the corner nearby (Ristorante Dante, I think).

Have a great trip!

Jean is online now  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 05:35 PM
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I would probably add San Marco; this could be when you go to the Bargello.

I guess I would add Santa Croce, too. Oh, stop me.

Definitely visit the Baptistry at the same time as the Duomo.

I would skip the Boboli Gardens for Santa Croce. There are minor gardens, but it has a very interesting outdoor area.

Piazza Repubblica is ok, but I am not sure about the flower market? I've been there a zillion times, but maybe too late in the day for a flower market?

Shops are everywhere. You can't avoid them.

On Sunday, when things are quiet in town, is a great day to walk to San Miniato and Piazzale Michelangelo. It is a long but entertaining walk is you sort of wander up sideways, from the east.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 05:46 PM
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This thread is helping me plan my itinerary as well. Everyone always has such great info and insight. One question, since I will be a woman travelling alone, is Florence a safe city at night? I know one must be careful about pickpockets at all times, but what about walking around in the evening?
elcon is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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Sounds like you have a great plan, and I agree with everyone's suggestions - except for skipping Boboli. Alright, you might not need to wander too much in the gardens themselves, but there is the Palace and the fabulous art galleries and royal apartments, and costume gallery, that you can wander through. Lovely paintings and amazing!!! rooms.

Enjoy...relax...and take your time in Florence.

That being said..San Lorenze and Santa Maria Novella are MUST on my list to visit when I go to Florence. But then again..San Lorenzo is one of my favourite churchs in the world...so I might be a bit biased.

camelbak is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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OMG...after reading the thread about spelling mistakes I make one myself!

I meant...San Lorenzo....not San Lorenze. <blush>
camelbak is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 06:54 PM
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Florence felt very safe to me as a woman who traveled solo to Italy and spent 9 days in Florence. I was out and about early in the mornings and in the evenings. I felt very safe walking alone at in Florence at all times. In my experience, there were always people on the streets. I absolutely fell in love with Florence. Have a great trip!
roadlesstraveled is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 07:00 PM
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San Miniato was the highlight of my stay in Florence.

The monks hold mass at around 5PM with gregorian chants and the views of Florence are superb.

Have a great trip,

Castellanese is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 09:58 PM
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I would try to do your duomo and climb to the top of the dome in the early morning. Two reasons....typically the crowds are down in the early mornings at the dome..thus making negotiating the really narrow stairwells much easier for you...and secondly the reason that you climb to the top is for the spectacular view from atop the dome of the surrounding countryside....in the early morning it is less likely to be foggy across the landscape and thus your view less obstructed than if you went later in the day. Get up do your breakfast and head over to the dome for your ascent around 9am..crisp clean air...ahhhh lol...
russwuf is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 07:49 AM
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I think "sparse" itineraries the best ones. Here are my thoughts, for whatever they're worth...

On your first day, I think you could easily visit the Medici Chapel (open to 4:50pm). If you don't actually make it inside the Duomo I wouldn't fret- the exterior is far more interesting. As another poster said, the line-ups for climbing the dome can be horrendous, but I'm not sure I would sacrifice an early morning time slot from the Uffizi or the Bargello for climbing the dome. I think it's open until 7pm, maybe keep an eye on the line and play it by ear (I never climbed the dome because I didn't want to waste time standing in line, but I don't have a "thing" for views from high vantage points, so it's a personal call whether it would be worth it for you)

Something we loved was visiting the Piazza della Signoria at dusk. I'll say my mom, who's life long dream was to see Florence, was quite disappointed and overwhelmed by it the first couple of days (she is a small town girl and also more sensitive than average to things like heat, noise, and crowds). It was our early evening wandering in the now empty Piazza della Signoria that caused her to have a change of heart- "Now, I get it. I really, really GET it." From that moment on she was more forgiving of Florence's foibles and started to enjoy herself. So I think this is a great thing to do on one's first evening in Florence.

On day 2, I would try to get to the Bargello in the early morning. It opens at 8:15am so I'd be there by 8:30am. We went early and practically had the place to ourselves. If you leave your hotel at around 7:30/7:45am, you can take a leisurely walk through the little medieval streets between the Duomo and the Bargello. There will be no tourists about, and because it's a Friday you'll get to see Florentines walking and bicycling their way to work. We walked down via san elisabetta down to via dante alighieri, where we turned left and walked the length of it. You'll pass "Dante's house" along the way.

I would go to the Oltrarno in the afternoon of day 2, if the Medici Chapel was seen on day 1. I would be too tired to do the Oltrarno justice after a morning at the Uffizi, but since the Bargello is smaller and far less crowded, I think it makes sense to move the Oltrarno to day 2. Eat lunch over there, too.

So day 3 you'd have the Uffizi, San Miniato and Piazza Michelangelo.

Day 4 Bapistery, which opens at 8:30am- go early, then you could fit in a visit to the museo dell opera if you wanted- Accademia, and Fiesole. In Fiesole, even if you decide not to visit the museum, I'd still pay to get into the museum complex so you can walk around the roman theater a bit, or just find a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

In general, I'd recommend getting out very early in the mornings. Take afternoon naps back at your hotel if necessary. And get out in the evenings, another great time to walk through the city. The Oltrarno is wonderful- no crowds- definately the place to go when you want to shop and wander in the afternoon. It's really weird, like there's an invisible barrier or something- Ponte vecchio is packed to the gills with tourists, and hardly any of them think to wonder over to the other side.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 08:29 AM
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Hi 20

The historic center of Florence is nly about 1 mi sq.

You have plenty of time to see it all.

> wonder if the Bardini Garden will be worthwhile visiting in early October?

If you mean the Boboli, only for the view of Florence from the top of the garden.

You have time to visit Siena. Thee floor of the Duomo will be uncovered.

ira is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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Thanks for your great suggestions - all of which I shall be mindful as I tweek our itinerary!

One of the challenges is planning around Sunday closures & compressed hours. Another frustration is conflicting information regarding opening hours. For example, one guidebook says that Santa Maria Novella is closed on Friday and another says that it is open on Friday from 13:00-17:00. Does anyone know which it is?

Re: Bardini Garden - Our local gardening guru did an article about visiting various Italian gardens. In it he described the Bardini Garden and it sounded magical - worth a peek! It is located just east of the Boboli Gardens. Rick Steves also mentions it in his Florence & Tuscany guidebook. That said, given the time of year we will be there, we won't see the garden in its glory. Is it still worth going?

Re: Flower Market - I must have read it somewhere because it is in my notes - lol! Evidently, it is held every Thursday (10:00-19:00) at the Portico of Piazza della Repubblica (via Pellicceria). Perhaps someone can confirm this for me!

Thanks again!

2010 is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Florence is exquisite. I've been blessed to visit 4 times and I hope to return.

One of my favorite travel guidebooks is the AAA Spiral Guide on Florence.


I would skip Boboli Gardens but be certain to go to San Miniato and Piazzale Michelangelo for the famous view of the city centre.

Palatine Art Gallery in the Pitti Palace is wonderful and worth a visit.

Whatever you do don't miss Santa Croce!! Eat at at the reasonably priced Baldovino's that is located just to the left of the church. It can get crowded at peak hours so try to get there around 11:00 for lunch and 6:00 for dinner.

If very crowded - I too would skip the Duomo interior - it's very dark and there are many worthy places that you could substitute.

Sunset on the Ponte Vechhio is heavenly.

As an earlier poster said - be sure to visit the Museo del Opera del Duomo that is located on the east end of the Duomo I believe - this last trip we made it a priority and we were delighted with it.

Concerts in a little church on Via del Corso occur almost every evening and they are also fun to attend.

I second the "experience" of strolling through Piazza della Signoria in the less crowded hours - it's a wonderful feeling. We like to sit at Cafe Rivoire and enjoy either hot chocolate or cappucino while peoplewatching.

I like to purchase leather gloves for myself, family and friends to take back as memory treasures. They are so easy and lightweight to pack.

Upon our arrival last Spring - we ducked into the Edison bookstore on Piazza della Repubblica and I purchased the book "I, Mona Lisa" by Kalogrides. It was a great read for those rest periods from sightseeing. It takes place in so many of the places in Florence. Also, prior to a trip to Florence it's fun to re-read "Agony and Ecstasy".

A bowl of Ribollito at ZaZa's near Medici Chapel is scrumptious. And don't fail to take advantage of consuming gelato at every opportunity.

I am so glad you have devoted 3 full days to this jewel of a city. You should be able to absorb much of what this special place has to offer.
caroltis is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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I did a little research into the Bardini Gardens. I realize I've seen these gardens from a couple of vantage points over the years, but I didn't know they were open to the public.

You could easily visit the gardens in conjunction with Piazzale Michelangelo (assuming you haven't lost yourselves in the Uffizi that morning!). But I'm still not sure you'll get the full enjoyment of the place in October. The gardens' plantings apparently lean heavily toward wisteria, camelias, viburnum and peonies which will not look like much in October. You, however, be able to appreciate the hedge mazes, statues, fountains, grottos, the small amphitheatre and beautiful views of Florence. I guess if your interest is in the structure/architecture of gardens as much as the actual foliage it would be worth your time and effort.

I did see that you can purchase a single entry that would include the Bardini and Boboli Gardens as well as the Silver, Porcelain and Costume Museums (located in Boboli). This, however, could take and entire afternoon to cover.

For Elcon, as others have noted, the historical center of Florence feels very safe, but as with every place you must use common sense. The only area I think I wouldn't wander alone in the evening is the Oltrarno just because there are fewer people walking around. Ten years ago or so, there was a problem with druggies in the Santo Spirito area late at night, and I don't know if the situation has improved.
Jean is online now  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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caroltis - I agree. The AAA spiral guide for Florence is a great little book with a great map.
roadlesstraveled is offline  
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